Low Self-Esteem in Teenagers

Struggles of adolescence

Low self-esteem in teenagers is a common problem. Your teen is dealing with numerous emotional and physical changes. The urge to fit in with their peers is very strong, and any perceived rejection by friends or classmates leads to low self-esteem in teenagers.

Some typical struggles of adolescence are:

• Acne

• Weight problems

• Rejection by members of the opposite sex

• Feeling that they don’t fit in to a particular crowd

• Shame because they don’t excel in academics or sports

• Sibling rivalry

• Hormonal mood swings

Changes in their bodies and their own inability to control their emotions can make a teen feel confused and scared.

The most important thing you can offer your teen is a willing ear. Encourage your teen to share his or her concerns and struggles with you. This doesn’t mean your teen will always be receptive to communication, but knowing you are available is very important, even if your teen doesn’t express that. Offer encouragement and praise whenever possible. Point out their strengths in moments of self-doubt. Remind them how important they are to you.

Also remember to set an example of good self-esteem. Your teen should see you coping with life and not putting yourself down.

The media makes adolescent struggles even worse. Young actors and actresses on TV and in the movies appear beautiful, well-dressed and self-assured. Comparisons with the rich and famous are always going to make your teen feel inadequate.


For most teens, adolescent struggles will come with years of turbulence, then will pass on their own as your teen begins to carve out an identity and develop self-confidence. For other teens, things get worse, not better.

The teen years are going to be difficult no matter what, but there are some things a parent should notice and take action on. Low self-esteem in teenagers can lead to bigger problems, such as experimenting with drugs, alcohol, or sexual activity. Eating disorders are another inappropriate coping mechanism for teens with self-esteem problems. Adolescent suicide can and does happen. Don’t put your head in the sand if your teen exhibits very troubling behavior.

Here are some warning signs for parents:

• sleeping all the time, lack of energy and motivation

• sudden drop in grades or interest in academics

• neglecting their personal appearance

• slurred speech

• skipping meals or binge eating, leading to sudden weight loss or weight gain

Signs of serious self-neglect or self-abuse should be discussed with your family doctor, a school counselor or a professional therapist. If your gut feeling is that something more is wrong than typical teenage angst, you are probably right. Don’t ignore your instincts.

For most teens, however, this is a difficult phase that will pass. . During these years, offer your child praise, encouragement and support whenever possible. Set an example of good self-esteem by treating yourself with self-respect at all times. Savor the gift of watching your teen blossom into a young adult and watch their confidence grow with each difficulty they rise above.

Low self-esteem affects every aspect of your life.

Children's self-esteem

Teen self-esteem

More on teenage self-esteem

Girls with low self-esteem

Adolescent self-esteem

Return home from low self-esteem in teenagers

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